NHL

Cullen: Breaking down NHL free agent signings

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Scott Cullen
7/9/2012 3:03:29 PM
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While the more significant free agent signings get covered with their own Numbers Game columns, Scott Cullen will provide analysis for NHL free agents that sign with new teams in this updating blog.

First, the Numbers Game pieces on the major off-season deals:
Wild win sweepstakes, sign Parise, Suter
Lightning land defenceman Carle
Stars sign Jagr
Jets ink veteran centre Jokinen
Stars get Roy for Ott, Pardy
Flames sign Jiri Hudler
Canucks land defenceman Garrison
Avalanche get Parenteau
Senators, Blue Jackets trade
Stars sign veteran scorer Ray Whitney
Oilers secure Schultz's services
Flames trade for, then sign, Wideman
Leafs deal Schenn for van Riemsdyk
Hurricanes get another Staal
Capitals get Ribeiro from Dallas
Islanders acquire Visnovsky
Blue Jackets bring in Bobrovsky

RED WINGS sign G JONAS GUSTAVSSON for two years, $3-million
Jonas Gustavsson hasn't shown much in three NHL seasons, but the 27-year-old did have some moments last season for Toronto (eg. .926 save percentage in 11 games in January), but a .900 save percentage in 107 career games is not indicative of anything more than a backup. Could he be better in Detroit? Perhaps. Even if Detroit's defence could slip now that Nicklas Lidstrom has retired, it is a good opportunity for Gustavsson to show that he has more to offer.

With that contract, Gustavsson could be reasonably active, maybe getting 25-30 starts in the backup role.

COYOTES sign RW DAVID MOSS for two years, $2.1-million
David Moss, 30, is a big winger who has some offensive upside, but has been hampered by injuries, missing 98 games over the last three seasons. Moss scored two goals in 32 games last season, playing a career-high 14:01 per game for Calgary, but his advanced metrics were solid, facing a relatively high calibre of competition and starting more of his shifts in the defensive zone (per www.behindthenet.ca).

With the Coyotes, Moss will fit in a top-nine role. If he stays healthy and plays 15-plus minutes per game, Moss could snipe 20 goals for the second time in his career.

AVALANCHE sign C JOHN MITCHELL for two years, $2.2-million
John Michell, a 27-year-old forward who had fallen out of favour with Toronto, but resurrected his career with the New York Rangers last season, performing well in a fourth-line role after starting the season in the American Hockey League.

In Colorado, Mitchell is a sensible fourth-line centre, who can win faceoffs (51.8% last year, 55.7% in 2010-2011).

SENATORS sign D MIKE LUNDIN for one year, $1.15-million
A player that flies under the radar, 27-year-old Mike Lundin was out of the lineup for much of last season due to a back injury then, later in the year, a sports hernia, but he's been quietly effective when he does play.

Lundin played only 17 games for the Wild last season and was asked to play tough minutes. He's played more than 20 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons so, presuming he's healthy, Lundin should step into a regular role on the Ottawa blueline.

HURRICANES sign D JOE CORVO for one year, $2-million
This is the third time around in Carolina for 35-year-old Joe Corvo, a talented, yet enigmatic defenceman who can help on the power play, yet also will also make shockingly poor decisions with the puck from time to time.

Corvo's role was reduced (18:49 per game ATOI) last season in Boston, after playing a career-high 24:47 per game in Carolina in 2010-2011, which should make it easier to slide him into a third-pairing role for the Hurricanes.

WILD sign C ZENON KONOPKA for two years, $1.85-million
It took Zenon Konopka some time to reach the NHL as a regular, finally sticking as a 28-year-old with Tampa Bay in 2009-2010. While he's bounced around since then, he's found his niche as a fourth-line centre that can fight and win face-offs.

In the last three seasons, 31-year-old Konopka has 76 fights (www.hockeyfights.com) and has won 59.0% of his face-offs. He also has eight goals and is minus-29 in 211 games over the last three seasons, so there is no reason to expect anything more from him than those two established areas of contribution.

With Minnesota, Konopka will fit behind Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cullen down the middle, so he won't be asked to do too much, but he'll also provide a more consistent pugilistic presence in the lineup alongside heavyweight Matt Kassian.

WILD sign RW TORREY MITCHELL for three years, $5.7-million
Torrey Mitchell is a 27-year-old forward that has never scored more than 23 points in an NHL season, but he's speedy, versatile and has been an effective checker when healthy.

Based on the financial commitment shown by Minnesota, Mitchell is likely to play a more substantial role with the Wild. He could fit in a third line role, perhaps with more penalty killing time than he received in San Jose.

CANADIENS sign RW COLBY ARMSTRONG for one year, $1-million
29-year-old Colby Armstrong is coming off the toughest season of his career, missing significant time with a sprained ankle and broken foot, managing one goal, three points and a career-worst minus-8 rating in 29 games. Those struggles resulted in his contract being bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs and made Armstrong free to sign with any club.

With this short-term deal, Armstrong has an opportunity to re-establish his NHL credentials because, prior to two forgettable seasons in Toronto, Armstrong had been a solid top nine forward who tallied 15 goals three times in his career.

SENATORS sign LW GUILLAUME LATENDRESSE for one year, $1.25-million
Guillaume Latendresse, 25, is a big forward with soft hands who has flashed offensive ability in his career, but has spent most of the last two seasons on the sidelines battling a groin injury then a concussion that limited him to a total of 27 games over the last two seasons.

When he wasn't hurt last season, Latendresse played a career-high 15:11 per game and scored five goals in 16 games. If he can manage to stay healthy, Latendresse could provide secondary offence for the Senators, offsetting at least some of what the Senators lost when they traded Nick Foligno to Columbus.

Considering how much time Latendresse has missed over the last two seasons, it's optimistic to assume that he won't run into any injury problems, but it's a low-risk contract for the Senators. If Latendresse is a 20-goal scorer, then he'll be a bargain. If not, it's the cost of a make-good contract.

DUCKS sign LW BRAD STAUBITZ for two years, $1.275-million
Enforcer Brad Staubitz will turn 28-years-old later this month and he's been active in the role, fighting 42 times (www.hockeyfights.com) in 180 games over the last three seasons.

Staubitz plays six minutes per game and has 19 points in 215 career games, so he's not adding a lot more than muscle to the lineup and, when it comes to his role on the Ducks, he's a cheaper option than George Parros, who moved on to Florida.

SHARKS sign RW ADAM BURISH for four years, $7.2-million
29-year-old veteran Adam Burish has been a popular role player and he is coming off a season in which he tallied a career-high 19 points with a career-best plus-6 rating in 65 games.

Unfortunately for Burish, he's run into injury problems regularly, missing at least 15 games in each of the last four seasons, so his rambunctious style can take its toll. Nevertheless, when he's in the lineup, it's easy to see Burish fitting on the Sharks' third line, agitating and doing some work on the penalty kill.

His price tag seems a tad high for that contribution, but role players like Travis Moen and Max Talbot are in the same annual price range on long-term deals, so it's not completely out of line either.

ISLANDERS sign RW BRAD BOYES for one year, $1-million
After six years of providing solid (and better) offensive production, 30-year-old Brad Boyes struggled in 2011-2012, finishing with a career-low eight goals and 23 points while playing just 13:10 per game.

There are no illusions that Boyes is going to return to scoring 30 or 40 goals, but on a make-good contract, Boyes could provide complementary offence for the Islanders. At the very least, he's an insurance policy in case no one else (Ryan Strome? other free agents?) can step in to provide offence with PA Parenteau departing as a free agent.

ISLANDERS sign D MATT CARKNER for three years, $4.5-million
One of the game's most fearsome heavyweights, 31-year-old Matt Carkner has been struggling with injuries, most notably a knee problem that limited him to 29 games in 2011-2012.

In 2009-2010, Carkner played 81 games and was taking a regular turn on the Ottawa blueline, playing more than 16 minutes per game and dropping the gloves 24 times (www.hockeyfights.com) over the season. His ice time, games played and pugilistic activity have decreased since.

For the money he's getting, Carkner is going to get a chance on the third pairing for the Islanders and they can use the muscle, but it's going to require a return to good health and a reversal of his current career trend for him to be an everyday contributor on the Island.

PANTHERS sign D FILIP KUBA for two years, $8-million
35-year-old Filip Kuba rebounded dramtically in 2011-2012, going from a career-worst minus-26 in 2010-2011 to a career-best plus-26 last season, while playing 23:37 per game, primarily alongside Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.

Returning to Florida, the team that drafted him in the eighth round in 1995, Kuba figures to step into the spot vacated by Jason Garrison, who signed with Vancouver. Kuba has experience and should provide enough defensive stability to allow Brian Campbell to freewheel offensively, but the Panthers are taking a more economical approach investing in two years of Kuba as opposed to the six years required to keep Garrison.  

RANGERS sign RW ARRON ASHAM for two years, $2-million
A 34-year-old grinder who has done more fighting in the latter stages of his career, Arron Asham has dropped the gloves 45 times (www.hockeyfights.com) over the last four seasons while taking a regular turn on the fourth line in Pittsburgh.

One of the perils of Asham's role is that injuries are starting to catch up to him. He's missed 56 games over the last two seasons, so that needs to be considered as part of the risk for the Rangers, but one that they're willing to take as they add some middleweight muscle to offset the loss of Brandon Prust.

RANGERS sign RW ARRON ASHAM for two years, $2-million
A 34-year-old grinder who has done more fighting in the latter stages of his career, Arron Asham has dropped the gloves 45 times over the last four seasons while taking a regular turn on the fourth line in Pittsburgh.

One of the perils of Asham's role is that injuries are starting to catch up to him. He's missed 56 games over the last two seasons, so that needs to be considered as part of the risk for the Rangers, but one that they're willing to take as they add some middleweight muscle to offset the loss of Brandon Prust.

PENGUINS sign LW TANNER GLASS for two years, $2.2-million
Coming off a season in which he played an unprecedented 13:25 per game as part of the popular GST line in Winnipeg, 28-year-old Tanner Glass moves to Pittsburgh as an effective replacement for Asham.

Glass was a career-worst minus-12 last season, but he played difficult minutes, facing difficult competition and starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone (per www.behindthenet.ca). He should play a similar role for Pittsburgh, though he could see his ice time reduced on a team as deep and talented up front as the Penguins.

CANADIENS sign D FRANCIS BOUILLON for one year, $1.5-million
Short and stocky 36-year-old Francis Bouillon hasn't been terribly durable, missing 83 games over the last four seasons, but he leaves it all on the ice.

In a third-pair role, Bouillon can add experience and a feisty edge to the Canadiens blueline but, at this point, probably not much more.

BLACKHAWKS sign D SHELDON BROOKBANK for two years, $2.5-million
31-year-old Sheldon Brookbank is coming off the most productive season of his career. In 80 games, playing a career-high 15:36 per game, Brookbank finished with a career-high 14 points and plus-11 rating. These are modest totals, but he adds toughness in his limited role. He hits, blocks shots and has 31 fights over the last four seasons, according to www.hockeyfights.com.

If everyone is healthy in Chicago, Brookbank may be an extra on defence, but he could also be insurance in the event that Steve Montador isn't ready to return to the lineup.

AVALANCHE sign D GREG ZANON for two years, $4.5-million
Being one of the game's best shot-blockers has taken its toll on 32-year-old Greg Zanon, who played a career-low 56 games last season. After he was acquired from Minnesota by Boston, Zanon played a limited role, just 15:54 per game (and 13:43 per game in the first round of the playoffs).

In the four seasons prior to last year, however, Zanon finished in the top seven in blocked shots every year, so he could be an asset in Colorado, if healthy. Looking at the Avalanche defence corps, Zanon may be in a battle for ice time, but his salary suggests that the Avs have plans for him to play.

CANADIENS sign RW BRANDON PRUST for four years, $10-million
Brandon Prust has fought his way into an NHL role, scrapping 81 times over the last four seasons, but he's established that he's more than just a pugilist, playing 12:50 per game over the last couple seasons.

While Prust's offence decreased last season (from 13 goals 29 points in 2010-2011 to five goals, 16 points in 2011-2012), he was a trusted player for the Rangers, starting nearly twice as many shifts in the defensive zone (www.behindthenet.ca).

In Montreal, Prust adds some fire that has generally been lacking from the Canadiens' lineup and he should play among the top nine forwards. Given his wage, that has to be the expectation.

JETS sign LW ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY for one year, $1.8-million
32-year-old Alexei Ponikarovsky's career had been in a downward spiral since he was traded from Toronto in 2010, going through unimpressive stints with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Carolina before a decent finish to the 2011-2012 season with New Jersey, when he finished with 18 points and a plus-9 rating in 33 games (nine points, plus-8 in 24 playoff games) for the Devils.

For the Jets, he's a legitimate third-line forward who has size and at least a little offensive upside.

PANTHERS sign RW GEORGE PARROS for two years, $1.85-million
It's fair to wonder if George Parros' role, as a heavyweight, might be getting phased out since he played only 46 games and his 11 fights (per www.hockeyfights.com) last season was easily his fewest in an NHL season.

Parros has never played more than 6:30 per game, so he's not suddenly going to be a difference-maker in Florida, but as long as their are heavyweights that he can drop the gloves with, he has a role to play.

PREDATORS sign G CHRIS MASON for one year, $1.25-million
36-year-old veteran Chris Mason played 20 games for the Jets last season, his fewest since 2003-2004, but he's a decent option to be Pekka Rinne's backup in Nashville (where he played 135 games from 1998-2008) because, well, it's not expected to be a heavy workload.

Though Mason finished with an uninspiring .898 save percentage last season, the year was going relatively well until his last three appearances, when he allowed 11 goals on 72 shots.

BLUE JACKETS sign D ADRIAN AUCOIN for one year, $2-million
No longer an offensive threat with a big blast from the point, 39-year-old Adrian Aucoin nevertheless turned in a solid season for the Phoenix Coyotes, playing effectively in relatively difficult minutes.

While the Columbus blueline is actually a relative area of strength, having a steady veteran like Aucoin on hand won't hurt. Maybe he doesn't need to keep playing 20-plus minutes per game, but Aucoin can add stability to the third pairing.

RED WINGS sign LW DAMIEN BRUNNER
26-year-old Swiss forward Damien Brunner is small, but skilled, scoring 164 points in 132 Swiss League games over the last three seasons. It's not an easy transition to make the jump from Switzerland to the NHL, so Brunner may need time in Grand Rapids, but he does go into next season with at least a moderate level of intrigue.

MAPLE LEAFS sign C JAY MCCLEMENT
Jay McClement is a 29-year-old checking centre who played a career-low 13:45 per game for Colorado last season, yet his 3:06 of shorthanded ice time per game ranked third among all forwards (behind Maxime Talbot and Tomas Plekanec). Joining a Maple Leafs team that ranked 28th (77.3%) in penalty-killing last season, McClement has an obvious focus for his efforts.

Not surprisingly, McClement starts the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone (www.behindthenet.ca) and that should continue in Toronto. The question is what the Maple Leafs will do to sort out their logjam at centre. With Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly and David Steckel on the roster already, someone's due to get bumped in order for Toronto to get McClement into the lineup.

DUCKS sign D BRYAN ALLEN for three years, $10.5-million and D SHELDON SOURAY for three years, $11-million
After dealing veteran D Lubomir Visnovsky to the Islanders, the Ducks were undermanned on the blueline, so they acted quickly in free agency, adding a pair of veterans that have size and toughness.

31-year-old Bryan Allen played tough minutes for Carolina, facing a high level of competition and starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone (www.behindthenet.ca). At 6-foot-5, Allen has size, toughness and is a reliable defensive presence.

Souray, who turns 36 this week, resurrected his career after a season in the AHL, playing effectively in some difficult minutes for the Dallas Stars. However, Souray wasn't utilized much in a power play role -- his 1:48 PP time on ice per game ranked fourth among Stars defencemen -- so his point total (21) was modest, but his plus-minus (plus-11) was his best since his rookie year in 1997-1998.

In Anaheim, Souray's size and toughness will be appreciated, but he may also have more of an opportunity to unleash his bomb on the power play; despite injuries and a year in the AHL, since 2003-2004, Souray is tied for sixth among defencemen with 48 power play goals. Zdeno Chara, Dion Phaneuf and Sergei Gonchar are the only active defencemen ahead of him.

The Ducks now have a solid veteran defence corps to support Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa. Allen, Souray, Francois Beauchemin and Toni Lydman round out a steady, if not necessarily spectacular, group.

STARS sign D AARON ROME for three years, $4.5-million
Aaron Rome, 28, has never played more than 56 games in an NHL season, but has been solid in a depth role for the last three seasons with Vancouver; solid enough to get a look in a full-time role with the Stars.

Over the last two seasons with Vancouver, Rome has 15 points, a minus-3 rating and 99 penalty minutes while playing 16:28 per game, so the Stars can expect some physical play as part of their third pairing.

RED WINGS sign RW JORDIN TOOTOO for three years, $5.7-million
Despite scoring only six goals in 77 games, 29-year-old agitator Jordin Tootoo may be coming off his best NHL season, scoring a career-high 30 points while playing a career-high 13:09 per game.

Tootoo also registered a career-high 151 hits last season so that, combined with 32 fights over the last five seasons (per www.hockeyfights.com), suggests that Tootoo will be adding a physical dimension that's been lacking from Detroit's bottom six forwards.

RED WINGS sign RW MIKAEL SAMUELSSON for two years, $6-million
Returning to the team for which he scored 67 goals from 2005-2006 to 2008-2009, 35-year-old Mikael Samuelsson has remained a productive player since departing, scoring 62 goals and 134 points in 203 games with (mostly) Vancouver and Florida.

As a secondary offensive contributor, Samuelsson has been a factor on the power play, notching 42 power play goals over the last seven seasons. He's one of 24 NHLers to have at least 40 power play goals and at least a plus-60 rating over that time frame.

Back in Detroit, Samuelsson should replace Jiri Hudler on a the second line, alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, an opportunity that should allow him to remain productive for a couple more seasons.

SABRES sign LW/D JOHN SCOTT for one year, $600,000
6-foot-8 heavyweight John Scott has one goal, five points and 22 fights in 146 career games. He might have more bouts if only there were others in his weight class (according to www.hockeyfights.com, Scott is undefeated in his 19 NHL fights, most of which have been lopsided results in his favour, but the Sabres are looking for muscle to ensure, for example, that no one is taking liberties with goaltender Ryan Miller.

Scott isn't effective (or mobile) enough to play a regular shift, but it's easy to see how a line with Steve Ott, Patrick Kaleta and Scott could wreak havoc when turned loose.

CAPITALS sign RW JOEY CRABB for one year, $950,000
After years of battling for a spot in the NHL, 29-year-old Joey Crabb earned his first one-way contract after a solid year in a checking role for Toronto.

Crabb has 50 points in 144 career games, playing 13:02 per game, so he's not going to suddenly become an offensive threat with the Capitals, but it's easy to see him in a regular fourth-line role on right wing; perhaps even third line if Joel Ward doesn't perform better than he did in 2011-2012.

CAPITALS sign D JACK HILLEN for one year, $650,000
26-year-old Jack Hillen played in a reduced role last season with Nashville, logging 14:04 per game in 55 games as a part-time player, following a couple seasons with the New York Islanders in which he handled more responsibility.

In Washington, Hillen still figures to be an extra but, as an undersized puck-mover, he offers a different dimension than someone like John Erskine, who is a more physical presence.

COYOTES sign RW CHRIS CONNER for one year, $650,000
28-year-old winger Chris Conner has played 76 games for Pittsburgh and Detroit over the last three seasons, struggling to earn a regular spot on the NHL roster of some very good teams.

Conner has 118 points in 127 AHL games over that span as well so, at the very least, he should be a minor-league asset for the Coyotes, but he could have a better chance to earn a spot on a Phoenix roster that isn't as talented as the teams Conner has been with recently.

BLUES sign D JEFF WOYWITKA for one year, $700,000
Claimed off waivers from Montreal at the start of last season, 28-year-old journeyman Jeff Woywitka was a spare part for the New York Rangers, dressing for only 28 games and playing only 10:25 per game when he did dress. However, Woywitka didn't embarrass himself in his limited role and provides depth for a Blues defence that could still lose Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins in free agency.

COYOTES sign LW STEVE SULLIVAN for one year, $1.85-million plus bonuses
After the Phoenix Coyotes lost 40-year-old leading scorer Ray Whitney to the Dallas Stars as a free agent, they effectively replaced him with 38-year-old Steve Sullivan, who scored 48 points for Pittsburgh last season.

21 of Sullivan's 48 points came on the power play, so it's not reasonable to expect him to be a dynamic force at even-strength, particularly given the calibre of centres he will skate with in Phoenix compared to Pittsburgh but, as an economical option that could provide secondary scoring, Sullivan could be worthwhile. The trouble for Phoenix could come if Sullivan is required to provide more than that.

STARS sign C JAKE DOWELL for two years, $1.4-million
Overlooked because he inked on the same day as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (and because he's Jake Dowell), the 27-year-old checker got a two-year deal, with the second-year a guaranteed one-way deal (according to www.capgeek.com).

In 154 career games, Dowell has 33 points and has played 10:20 per game -- a limited fourth-line role that he needs to battle for in Minnesota. Though he played few minutes last season (7:38 per game), Dowell was at least effective in moving the puck in the right direction, based on zone starts (48.5%) and finishes (53.3%) as well as his team-leading Corsi (11.16, all per www.behindthenet.ca).

JETS sign G AL MONTOYA for one year, $601,000
Following a strong showing in 20 games for the New York Islanders in 2010-2011, Al Montoya had a more substantial role last season and the results weren't quite so glowing, as his .893 save percentage ranked 41st among 42 goaltenders that played at least 30 games (only Dwayne Roloson, at .886, was worse).

After the Jets tried, and failed, to lure Jonas Gustavsson into the backup role behind Ondrej Pavelec, 27-year-old Montoya comes as an inexpensive option. If he can perform closer to what he did prior to last season (.922 SV% in 25 GP), Montoya may be good value as the Jets' number two between the pipes.

FLYERS sign D BRUNO GERVAIS for two years, $1.65-million
A 27-year-old that has been in a part-time role the last couple seasons with the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, Bruno Gervais did score a career-hih six goals in 50 games last season, playing a modest 14:15 per game for the Lightning.

In Philadelphia, Gervais will battle for the sixth spot on the defensive depth chart, with his NHL experience perhaps giving him the edge on prospects Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon, while his mobility could put Gervais ahead of Andreas Lilja.

FLYERS sign LW RUSLAN FEDOTENKO for one year, $1.75-million
33-year-old Ruslan Fedotenko finished with a career-low nine goals and 20 points while playing a career-low 13:36 per game for the New York Rangers last season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. According to the advanced stats on www.behindthenet.ca, Fedotenko also played hard minutes for the Blueshirts, starting only 36.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone while his quality of competition faced was among the highest for Rangers forwards.

That doesn't suggest that Fedotenko isn't in decline. At his age, with that production, he probably is, but it also presents some justification for the Flyers to add a two-time Stanley Cup winner who will provide solid depth for Philadelphia's forward lines.

PENGUINS sign D DYLAN REESE for one year, $600,000
Signed to a two-way deal, 27-year-old Dylan Reese has played a total of 74 games for the Islanders over the last three seasons, but has been effective enough in that limited duty (ie. not in a protected role when he did play for the Isles last season) to think that he still might be able to take a regular turn in the NHL.

The Penguins have upgraded their defence dramatically, so Pittsburgh-native Reese may be hard-pressed to beat out top prospects, but he's an interesting depth addition who just might be able to offer more than he has to this point in his career.

CANUCKS sign D DEREK JOSLIN for one year, $700,000
25-year-old Derek Joslin struggled in Carolina last season, finishing minus-15 in 44 games while playing just 10:35 per game (against low quality of competition according to www.behindthenet.ca).

After he was bought out by the Hurricanes, Joslin inked a one-year, two-way deal with Vancouver that will give him a shot at earning a depth role on the Canucks blueline.

RANGERS sign LW TAYLOR PYATT for two years, $3.1-million
A big winger who isn't fast enough or nasty enough to make the most of his physical gifts, 30-year-old Taylor Pyatt is nonetheless capable of playing a third or fourth-line role. He has scored more than 15 goals three times in his career, but last season's nine goals and 19 points represented a decline in production.

With the Rangers, Pyatt won't be expected to score a lot, but he can effectively fill the minutes that were played by Ruslan Fedotenko in recent seasons.

PENGUINS sign C PHILIPPE DUPUIS for one year, $600,000
Shockingly ineffective (zero points in 30 games) in Toronto after signing as a free agent last summer, 27-year-old Philippe Dupuis will get a fresh look with the Penguins. Dupuis may not crack the lineup on opening night, but he's a physical player who played better once demoted to the AHL, so he could deserve another chance in a checking role if the Penguins have an opening available.  

SABRES sign C KEVIN PORTER for one year
26-year-old Kevin Porter has struggled to secure a regular NHL role since winning the Hobey Baker award in 2007-2008 while playing at Michigan. He had a bit of a break through in 2010-2011, scoring 14 goals and 25 points in 74 games for Colorado, but finished last season with seven points in 35 games while playing a career-low 9:11 per game.

Porter will get thrown into the mix of extra forwards trying to crack the lineup in Buffalo, offering more skill than the likes of Cody McCormick, John Scott and Matt Ellis, but he could also end up playing at least some of the time in the AHL.

LIGHTNING sign D MATT TAORMINA for one year
Undersized 25-year-old blueliner Matt Taormina split last season between the New Jersey and Albany Devils, putting up seven points and a plus-6 rating in 30 games for the Devils.

Taormina struggled at times with the Devils last year, but he's worth a speculative play, particularly for a team like the Lightning that isn't exactly overrun with quality puck-moving defencemen.

The activity to this point on the unrestricted free agent market still leaves the trade market as a source for major moves, with Roberto Luongo, Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and others mentioned as possibilities.

Here are my top remaining unrestricted free agents:
Alexander Semin
Shane Doan
Teemu Selanne
Carlo Colaiacovo
Michal Rozsival
Andrei Kostitsyn
Chris Campoli
Petr Sykora
Kyle Wellwood
Daniel Winnik
Scott Hannan
Peter Mueller

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Zach Parise (Photo: Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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